Eighth VBS Bank suspect Philip Truter granted R50K bail

Philip Truter in court. Image: Twitter / @chriseldalewis

The suspect says he intends to plead guilty on charges he faces and turn state witness in the case.

The eighth suspect implicated in the looting of VBS Mutual Bank, Philip Truter, was granted bail by the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Monday morning, the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed.

Truter did not show up in court last month when the rest of the suspects made an appearance as he was in quarantine after having come into contact with someone who has Covid-19.

The suspect also faces 47 counts including racketeering, theft, fraud, money laundering and corruption following his arrest over the weekend.

In court, Truter’s request of reducing his bail amount to R50,000 was not opposed by the state. He told the court that he intends to plead guilty and turn state witness in the case.

This comes after only two suspects also accused of being involved in the matter paid the R100,000 bail that was set by the court, while the rest argued that they couldn’t afford to pay the bail.

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Truter was ordered by the court to hand over his passport as he was prohibited from travelling outside South Africa.

The case was postponed to 8 October 2020. He will join the other seven suspects.

Meanwhile, former Merafong City Local Municipality chief financial officer (CFO) Matthys Wienekus also made an appearance at the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Pretoria last month after being arrested for allegedly transferring R50 million of municipal funds into VBS Bank despite it being illegal to do so according to the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).

It was reported that Wienekus transferred the money into VBS Bank three days after he was appointed as acting CFO at the municipality.

According to his charge sheet, former municipal manager Romeo Mohaudi instructed Wienekus to make the transfer despite him being was aware that it was illegal to do so.

The former CFO faces up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine, which will be determined by a court. His case was postponed to the 29 July for plea and sentencing.

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“I have indicated that the investigations on the municipalities are at an advanced stage. This is the beginning and all the other cases are receiving the necessary attention,” said the National Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation Dr Godfrey Lebeya.

Merafong Local Municipality is one of the 20 other municipalities that invested municipal funds with VBS Bank in contravention of the law.

A report released in 2018, written by advocate Terry Motau and law firm Werksmans titled ‘The Great Bank Heist’, puts the total number stolen from the bank at R1.89 billion, and recommended that more than 50 individuals be criminally charged and held liable in civil proceedings.

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